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Arizona Angler’s Round Table

Meeting Notes & Highlights

AGFD Region 6 - Mesa Office

April 7, 2003




Participants included 37 anglers, 10 AGFD employees, 1 FWS employee, and 1 Tonto NF employee. Special thanks to Art Chamberlain for an excellent presentation last night on Fishing Roosevelt and Rob Bettaso for herding butterflies (facilitating).


Fishing Roosevelt. Angling tips from Art Chamberlain. Art gave an excellent presentation with a sack full of insight and tips that will not be noted here - you snooze, you lose. Don’t miss next quarter’s special guest.



Bill Luke Big Bass Days. Larry Riley and BLBBD Pro Staff member Dan Mayberry discussed the annual event and responded to questions. Previously-identified issues included shoreline fishing and overland transport, fish handling, and bed fishing. Observations of this year’s event were of good fish handling, well organized event with high level of family participation and recognition of young anglers. Young anglers received trophies and this year’s big fish prize went to a young angler. Total participation was 1,100 people. Several questions were asked:


Purpose of the event? Purpose of event is promotion of BL Dodge and to bring families to outdoors.


Are there plans to go artificial only? No. Want youth and family to be able to catch fish (very important for establishing and retaining anglers). Doubt they would be as successful without use of bait.


How about hook restrictions (use of circle hooks with live bait)? Good idea, BLBBD will discuss and look into.


Why Spring, why not Fall? Want to ensure other vendor participation at beginning of season (i.e. boats) as opposed to end of season. People buy boats and RVs in the Spring. Also, do not perceive a large impact when compared to multiple existing tournaments during this same spawning window. Point was offered that mostly casual anglers that comprise BLBBD. Allowed only one fish, they have less impact than skilled anglers from multiple pro or club events with six fish limits. Would consider rescheduling to avoid the spawn if other tournaments were required to do the same.


Have you thought about integrating stripers and white bass? Good idea and a good possibility. BLBBD will look into it.


How many deep captures occurred? Deep capture was not an issue this year because bass were not deep.


Someone asked about BLBBD sponsoring habitat projects at Pleasant? BLBBD has discussed stocking bass each year to "replenish" populations, but still considering. Larry and Jim Warnecke discussed the challenge (feasibility) associated with establishing and maintaining habitat structures in a lake with extreme annual water fluctuations. Increased productivity associated with inflow from Agua Fria and new lake effects are probably more important. Expect increased productivity in Lake Pleasant this year associated with inflow from Agua Fria.


Where there any shoreline fishing problems? Dan drove lake for 3 days and only saw 3 shore anglers. Did not see any problems.


Saw several boating enforcement violations, would you conduct a boat check prior to tournament? Rules are that participants will be disqualified if they break the law. Don’t think it would be feasible to inspect 400+ boats on the ramps. If inspections are not conducted for other tournaments, would not want to require it for BLBBD. May be a good opportunity for AGFD to do boating safety outreach. [Possible follow to this issue should include - Did officers writing tickets provide the names to BLBBD to coordinate disqualification?]


BLBBD is analyzing participant demographics including age, gender, catch, and bait used. Also, many were not aware that BLBBD requires lie-detector tests for major prize winners.

As Terry Johnson said "It was nice to start injecting some facts into the discussion, and we look forward to more details as Dan works with BLBBD to respond to angler questions and concerns through the Round Tables."


Law Enforcement, Watercraft, and Fishing. Leonard Ordway, Kevin Bergersen, and Mark Weise led a Q&A session. Tom Lister (USFS) discussed the Tonto NF’s LE program.


Point was made that AGFD is responsible for multiple functions associated with boating. These include law enforcement, boat registration, information and outreach, education, and navigational aids. Sheriff’s Office is not multi-function, only responsible for law enforcement. Last year AGFD conducted 16 OUI (operating under the influence) check stations.


Next year will be conducting a review of the boating statutes (Title 5). The review will be an opportunity for substantial changes. AGFD will be seeking input on changes from the public and stakeholders. Currently, SB 1283 proposes to raise the sanction for OUI test non-compliance to $750.


Tom Lister identified the limited jurisdiction with regard to USFS enforcement of watercraft laws. Tonto National Forest is one of the busiest forests nationally. Six officers are responsible for 3 million acres. Primary focus (when not responding to national needs i.e. space shuttle disaster and anti-terrorist requirements) is forest campground public law enforcement.



There was considerable discussion regarding personal experiences with unresponsiveness of some Sheriff’s Office deputies (Saguaro Lake). Leonard Ordway identified that he is still trying to get a representative from MCSO to the meeting. In the interim, it was suggested that if the SO does not respond, public complaints should be directed to the County Board of Supervisors. [Possible follow to this issue should include - should invite a member of the Board of Supervisors to attend a Round Table?]


Fisheries Issues Pertaining to USFWS. A copy of the USFWS Strategic Vision document was distributed by Larry Riley. The Strategic document was fostered by the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the Sport Fish and Boating Partnership Council, and the UFWS, and was approved in December. The document addresses historical declines in funding and support for USFWS sport fish programs that have impacted public sport fish in Arizona and elsewhere.


The next step is to implement the strategic plan regionally (AZ, NM, TX, OK). Mark Brouder of USFWS stated that USFWS wants input and ideas from anglers on implementation strategies and objectives – what priorities should USFWS consider? The group was asked how best to get this input from anglers. Several anglers wanted time to read the document to understand how best to help. It was suggested that USFWS hold a separate meeting to address this need. Specific meeting information would be critical so that anglers will understand the value and importance of such a meeting. USFWS, with help from AGFD, will put together a meeting, probably on a weekend.



Canyon Creek. Jim Warnecke advised that roads into Canyon Creek will be closed due to public safety throughout the summer. AGFD will conduct a fish survey after spring run-off and will work with USFS on habitat restoration. A large riparian exclosure (both elk and cattle) is planned (extending approximately 1.5 miles below OW bridge).


Question was asked when stream restoration could begin. Jim advised that it would likely be several years before watershed was stable enough to make stream work feasible.


Lee’s Ferry. Experimental flows intended to decrease recruitment of trout in the Grand Canyon ended in March. Flows have returned to the normal modified low fluctuating. Removal efforts targeting all predators within five miles of the Little Colorado River confluence was initiated. Only tributary targeted is Bright Angel Creek.


Effects of experimental flows and fish predator removal are not yet assessable. Surveys by AGFD Research Branch are planned for April, July, and October. Impacts to trout recruitment should be determined from the October surveys.


Question was asked about occurrence of striped bass in the Canyon and its impact. Larry Riley identified that a few striped bass have been entering the canyon for many years, however, they have not established.



Measuring boards. Jim Warnecke advised that he has bids on plastic 2.3" by 20" measuring boards. Prices are $1.45 each with an order of 2,000 boards, delivery would be about 3-4 weeks. AGFD (Fisheries and Nongame) will purchase 8,000 boards next fiscal year (July 2003). We will be looking for sponsors for subsequent purchases. Please forward ideas, names of relatives, etc for potential sponsorship.



Golden Natives. Scott Gurtin handed out a summary of activities, status, and issues regarding Apache and Gila trout recovery efforts. Hand out is as follows:


APACHE TROUT



The NEPA process was completed in 2002 for recovery of APT on USFS lands. The plan involves construction of 7 new fish barriers, maintenance on 3 existing barriers, and chemical renovation of 9 streams to remove non-native trouts or hybrid APT. Fall (2002) renovations were postponed due to presence of gravid brown trout. Severance/ transfer of water rights (for the small pools created by emplacement of fish barriers) must be completed before construction can begin.



The APT – LCR Spinedace Recovery Team met December 2002. Modifications to the APT Recovery Plan (Second Revision) were discussed in great detail. Revisions were completed and the RP was distributed to the team for re-review. The next APT Recovery Team meeting is scheduled for April 2003.



THANKS TO THE HARD-WORKING EFFORTS OF ALL OUR PARTNERS, IN PARTICULAR FRED FILLMORE (TROUT UNLIMITED), TU WILL BE AWARDED A CONSERVATION GRANT (BRING BACK THE NATIVES) FROM THE U.S. FOREST SERVICE FOR APACHE TROUT RECOVERY!!!



Rory Aikens received the completed Apache trout and Gila trout bookmarks that will be distributed to the public. The bookmarks were a small component of the outreach aimed at raising public awareness of the two native trouts. The bookmarks are fish-shaped with a brief statement on the back describing the current status of each species.



APT workdays: First two are scheduled for June 21 and July 5.



East Clear Creek: Joe DiSilvestro (FFF) has expressed a desire to see ECC (LCR drainage) restocked with APT on the basis that APT may have historically occupied ECC. Joe’s suggestion was to stock APT over existing RBT that exist in the system. Idea is based on premise that 1) APT may have resided there based on LCR spinedace; 2) In the past, non-native trout were typically stocked in with existing natives, leading to competition, predation, and/or hybridization. Frequency, magnitude, and duration of non-native stockings lead to the demise;


Can the reverse process work??


Issues that pertain to APT regarding ECC.


APT might have been present in ECC, but it has never been investigated/confirmed (only LCR headwaters). LCR Spinedace is present (co-occurring species).


APT focus is on ‘recovery streams’ at present, and ECC is not among them.


Stocking APT over existing RBT is not a viable option with current hatchery capabilities. Use of hatchery fish for recovery efforts is considered for WF Black & WF LCR, but future conservation may involve producing more lineages on station.


USFWS has expressed concern that LCR Spinedace might be affected – Current RBT stocking has several terms/conditions…(catchables only, wait until spillover is completed before stocking, monitor for downstream escapement, estimate mortality of stocked fish, no possession limits after Labor Day.


LCR Spinedace delisting may be required before considering APT stocking.


In addition to routine fisheries management, recovery of Gila trout, LCR Spinedace, and several other fishes is underway, and Department resources (people and funding) are limited.


In summary, despite apparent obstacles, the idea of stocking APT has potential merit; Department is willing to investigate the possibility further via discussions among APT RT members. Will also discuss possibility of bio-geographic study to determine potential for historic occurrence in ECC.


GILA TROUT



The Gila Trout and Chihuahua Chub Recovery Team met in December 2002. Population status surveys were reviewed, particularly for the populations in Whiskey Creek and Upper West Fork Gila River as the Cub Fire affected those streams last summer. The Revised RP was discussed in addition to an Emergency Evacuation Plan and Hatchery Production Plan. A Broodstock Management Plan was distributed to the team for review and discussion as this component addresses genetic and propagation issues relative to recovery.



Public comments on RP have been addressed and incorporated. RP will be sent to the RO and associated partners (AGFD, USFS) for approval and signatures. Once completed, a downlisting package will follow (probably mid summer 2003). A 4-D rule will be established that allows the states to manage take, and thus can provide for angling opportunities.



AGFD will be working with USBR, USFS, and USFWS on a cooperative NEPA for recovery streams in the Blue River drainage. Implementation could begin in late 2003 or 2004.


Dude and Raspberry Creek Information – 2002

Date
Purpose
Results

DUDE

3/27
Visual survey
Saw 9 fish in pools, all above highline trail crossing.

7/30
EF for fin clips (genetics)
Captured 6 fish 161-240mm TL. Missed another 5 fish. No evidence of reproduction observed.

8/8
Visual survey – lower section
No fish observed

10/24
YOY survey w/ unbaited fabric minnow traps
Caught one adult in trap. No evidence of reproduction observed.



RASPBERRY
Stocked with 113 age-0 Gila trout in November 2000.

8/9
EF for fin clips (genetics)
Captured 31 fish 130-250 mm TL (5-10"). Thirteen fish > 200 mm TL (8").


Dude Creek: stocked with 165 Gila trout as follows:

September 1999: 126 mixed-age fish

November 1999: 17 age 0 fish

May 2000: 22 adults


West Fork Oak Creek


12-step is still in process. Step 4 (briefing memo to the Commission) was completed and sent for review last week.


Follow-up discussions regarding East Clear Creek included feasibility of hatchery production of additional Apache trout. Hatcheries now limited by water supply and water discharge quality (must meet ADEQ standards). Also, impacts to LC spinedace still an issue with any stockings conducted by AGFD for sport fishing.


Commission Order 40. Larry Riley summarized the Commission Order process. Ideas generated internally with justifications collated by June. Mailout Survey proportioned across all six regions and several Open Houses will be conducted in August and September. If folks have ideas, bring them up through appropriate AGFD Regional Fish Program personnel (Mike Lopez, R1; Scott Reger, R2; Andy Clark, R3; Brad Jacobson, R4; Don Mitchel, R5; Jim Warnecke, R6).


ADJOURNED at ~ 9:30 p.m.


Next Round Table: July 14, 6-9 pm, (RESCHEDULED for WILDLIFE BUILDING, at State Fairgrounds)






Following items were not addressed due to time constraints:



Action Items from Past Meetings (as time permits). Various AGFD folks on:

a. MMBC Classics

b. Lake Pleasant and Stripers

c. Roosevelt Lake SRP Habitat Conservation Plan

d. AGFD Anglers Chat Room Sessions

e. AGFD budget issues and drought worries




Document AZ Anglers Round Table Summary.20030407.doc



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